14.771 | Fall 2021 | Graduate

Development Economics


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour/ session


Prerequisites for this course are 14.121 Microeconomic Theory I and 14.122 Microeconomic Theory II.

Course Description

This course is aimed at Ph.D. students in economics. It provides a rigorous introduction to core microeconomic issues in economic development, focusing on both key theoretical contributions and empirical applications to understand both why some countries are poor and on how markets function differently in poor economies. Topics include human capital (education and health); labor markets; credit markets; land markets; firms; and the role of the public sector.


An essential requirement of the class is the mandatory paper readings, every week (or a bit less frequently). You must read these papers extremely carefully. We will discuss these papers at length in class. These are papers that illustrate research methods, and we want to cover in detail. We will assume you have read them, so please be prepared. Each of you is required to post a comment on this paper at the latest 24 hours before class time using the class forum. We will start those sessions with a discussion of the paper. The class will also have 5 problem sets, one replication exercise, and one research proposal. Collaboration is encouraged for the problem sets. For empirical exercises, you may work in groups of up to two people and hand in one set of Stata or R code/answers. For all other exercises, each student must do the problem set individually and hand in his/her own set of answers. For the replication and research proposal, you can work in groups of two. See the Assignments section

Grading Scheme
  • Problem Sets (25%) 
  • Replication/Research Proposal (25%) 
  • Final Exam during exam week (40%) 
  • Class Participation (10%)
General Readings

Not required reading for this class, but you will find them useful and probably you will want to read them at some point if you are planning to work in this field.


  • Ray, Debraj. Development Economics. Princeton University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780691017068.
  • Bardhan, Pranab and Christopher Udry. Development Microeconomics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780198773719.
  • Banerjee, Abhijit and Esther Duflo. Poor Economics. Public Affairs, 2011. ISBN: 9781610390934.
  • Angrist, Josh and Stephen Pishke. Mostly Harmless Econometrics. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780691120355.
  • Imbens, Guido and Donald Rubin. Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780521885881.


See the Readings section.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2021
Learning Resource Types
Instructor Insights
Lecture Notes
Problem Sets
Written Assignments